The Financial Times has a charming article about the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, his passion for contemporary art, and the ways in which he is incorporating that passion into his administration—namely the new free-to-the-public Centre for Openness and Dialogue in Tirana, which exists in a building that used to function as headquarters for the country’s communist leaders.
The center’s inauguration was attended by an impressive list of European artists—Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon, Carsten Höller, Anri Sala, Liam Gillick, and Thomas Demand—many of whom had work in and outside of the building; at the opening, they met with German chancellor Angela Merkel. What’s more, the Financial Times describes Rama’s office as “like no other politician’s office I have ever visited. There are boxes of crayons on just about every available surface in the room, and light orchestral music plays in the background throughout the course of our interview.”
The center contains more than just contemporary art, it also houses collections of artifacts arranged somewhat abstractly; the Financial Times suggests that the center is borrowing from “the exploratory and experimental language of contemporary art to shed light on Albanian history and politics.”
Rama had a go at being an artist in Paris in the ’90s. He eventually returned home and was appointed minister of culture in 1998, which led to him becoming mayor of Tirana in 2000. Around that time, he was the center of controversy when he ordered a series of buildings to be repainted in bright colors, an action whose results were ultimately positive. “Colors made me very popular,” he told the FT.
“Once you promote taste, you are promoting a higher quality of living, a higher understanding of citizenship, and duties,” he added.